Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9780226674414 Will Publish March 2020
Cloth $75.00 ISBN: 9780226674384 Will Publish March 2020
An e-book edition will be published.

Old Thiess, a Livonian Werewolf

A Classic Case in Comparative Perspective

Carlo Ginzburg and Bruce Lincoln

Old Thiess, a Livonian Werewolf

Carlo Ginzburg and Bruce Lincoln

272 pages | 12 halftones, 3 tables | 5-1/2 x 8-1/2 | © 2020
Paper $25.00 ISBN: 9780226674414 Will Publish March 2020
Cloth $75.00 ISBN: 9780226674384 Will Publish March 2020
E-book $25.00 ISBN: 9780226674551 Will Publish March 2020
In 1691, a Latvian peasant known as Old Thiess boldly announced before a district court that he was a werewolf. Yet far from being a diabolical monster, he insisted, he was one of the “hounds of God,” fierce guardians who battled sorcerers, witches, and even Satan to protect the fields, flocks, and humanity—a baffling claim that attracted the notice of the judges then and still commands attention from historians today.

In this book, eminent scholars Carlo Ginzburg and Bruce Lincoln offer a uniquely comparative look at the trial and startling testimony of Old Thiess. They present the first English translation of the trial transcript, in which the man’s own voice can be heard, before turning to subsequent analyses of the event, which range from efforts to connect Old Thiess to shamanistic practices to the argument that he was reacting against cruel stereotypes of the “Livonian werewolf” a Germanic elite used to justify their rule over the Baltic peasantry. As Ginzburg and Lincoln debate their own and others’ perspectives, they also reflect on broader issues of historical theory, method, and politics. Part source text of the trial, part discussion of historians’ thoughts on the case, and part dialogue over the merits and perils of their different methodological approaches, Old Thiess, a Livonian Werewolf opens up fresh insight into a remarkable historical occurrence and, through it, the very discipline of history itself.
Bruce Lincoln

Introduction, a Postscript
Carlo Ginzburg

1. The Trial
Transcript from the Hearings at the Provincial Court of Venden (April 28, 1691)  
The Verdict Pronounced by the High Court of Dorpat [Tartu] (October 31, 1692) 

2. Comparison of Old Thiess to Germanic Cult Groups, Folklore, and Persephone Myths 
Otto Höfler; translated by Bruce Lincoln

3. Comparison of Old Thiess to Friulian Benandanti, Russian Werewolves, and Shamanic Others
Carlo Ginzburg
From The Night Battles: Witchcraft and Agrarian Cults in the Sixteenth and Seventeenth Centuries (1980)                                                                                                             
From “Germanic Mythology and Nazism: Thoughts on an Old Book by Georges Dumézil,” in Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method (1989)                                                     
“Freud, the Wolf-Man, and the Werewolves,” in Clues, Myths, and the Historical Method (1989)
From Ecstasies: Deciphering the Witches’ Sabbath (1989)

4. Comparison of Old Thiess to Learned Descriptions and Stereotypes of Livonian Werewolves and to the Benandanti: A Seventeenth-Century Werewolf and the Drama of Religious Resistance     
Bruce Lincoln

5. Ginzburg Responds to Lincoln: Conjunctive Anomalies—A Reflection on Werewolves

6. Lincoln Responds to Ginzburg: Letter of February 8, 2017

7. The Case of Old Thiess: A Comparative Perspective
A Conversation: Saturday, September 30, 2017
The Conversation Continues: Monday, October 2, 2017
Appendix A: Commonalities between Thiess’s Testimony and Descriptions of Livonian Werewolves in Learned Literature

Appendix B: A Livonian Narrative Featuring the Opposition of Werewolves and Witches

Suggestions for Further Reading
For more information, or to order this book, please visit
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

Chicago Blog: Literature

Events in Literature

Keep Informed